Few conditions have sparked as much controversy as myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Professional consensus has long suggested that the condition should be classified as psychiatric, while patients and advocacy groups have insisted it is a serious biological disease that requires medical care and research to develop it.
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This longstanding debate shifted in 2015, when U.S. governmental health authorities fully embraced medical classification and management. Given that some globally respected health authorities now insist that ME/CFS is a serious biological disease, this paper asks whether it can be ethical for the U.K. practice guideline now in development to characterize the condition as a mental health disorder.
Following a brief history of ME/CFS controversy, I offer three arguments to show that it would be unethical for the U.K. to now characterize ME/CFS as a mental health condition, considering the relevance of that conclusion for ME/CFS guidelines elsewhere and for other contested conditions.
© 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Source: O’Leary D. Ethical classification of ME/CFS in the United Kingdom. Bioethics. 2019 Feb 8. doi: 10.1111/bioe.12559. [Epub ahead of print]